Spend time in nature and discover how to relax, focus, and renew your connection to the earth. If you normally practice indoors, find a secluded spot outside for sitting, walking, or journaling. Pay attention to nature’s changing conditions – the fresh air, noise, and sunshine of the warmer months, or the crisp, peaceful cold of winter. Allow yourself to wander in nature, guided by your instincts. Use this solitary time to reflect on your life and your work.
Here are two practices that have been used at the Center’s retreats and staff retreats:
A Practice for Focus and Concentration
Find a private area outdoors where you can sit without being disturbed. Choose a small spot on the ground, about twelve inches in diameter. Sit silently, looking only at that spot, continually bringing your wandering mind back to what you are seeing there. After about 10 or 15 minutes, broaden your attention to more of your surroundings, trying to maintain the same intensity and attention to detail.
Learning to Use Your Senses
Set aside 10 to 20 minutes to observe your surroundings very closely. Try to use as many of your senses (taste, touch, hearing, smell, sight) as possible: touch the earth and plants with your hands; smell the flowers; listen to the sound of the wind and the birds. After the time is up, sit down with a journal. Make five lists, one for each sense, to record what you remember. This practice can be done with a small group. If so, read your lists out loud to learn what others experienced.